Rethinking Social Media for Scientists

By C&EN Media Group

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Social media platforms are more than just digital water coolers; they’re bustling networks of industry ideas and communication.

For science companies in particular, social media presents an opportunity to easily and efficiently share information with their audience and engage networks in conversation surrounding the excitement of discovery.

Today’s scientists are using social media in a variety of ways. They share journal articles, discuss thoughts and opinions, provide updates from conferences and meetings, and circulate information about professional opportunities and events.

With more scientists active on social networks every day, science marketers are recognizing social media as an essential platform for reaching their audience. The casual atmosphere on social platforms provides a steady ground to build lasting relationships by interacting with customers in a non-threatening environment.

But with so many different social platforms out there, and each with its own distinct purpose, how do you know where to look or what to say? Here, we outline the common tools and basic tactics you’ll need to reach scientists through different social media channels.


When it comes to reaching scientists, this is perhaps the most preferred social platform, as it is one of the most dominant social networking tools for scientific audiences. It can be used for finding jobs, connecting with colleagues, and joining groups that cater to specific interests. If you’re considering a social media strategy, start with LinkedIn and take the time to fully realize the value it can create. (Read this cleverly-titled blog post for more: The LinkedIn for Scientists: LinkedIn.)


No other social platform keeps your finger on the pulse of an industry quite like Twitter. Besides social networking, it’s a great way to keep up on real-time news developments and scientific discoveries. Twitter can bring together researchers from a variety of disciplines and geographic locations to share information and ideas. Easily searchable hashtags and usernames allow its countless conversations to be tracked and sorted in seconds. Check out the Top 30 list of scientists and chemists from the Huffington Post to get started.


Most professionals remain hesitant to participate professionally on the same social network where they might share their personal lives with friends and family. For this reason, many scientists shy away from Facebook for lab-related activities. But, if you’re willing to mark clear boundaries between your personal and professional presence, the network’s informal atmosphere can be a good place to deepen your relationship with customers by showing off some personality. (On a Page, Phenomenex did just that with their fun Facebook ‘Superman’ cover photo.)


Relatively new to the social media scene, Google+ allows you to stake your claim to everything associated with yourself on the web. The network’s authorship tool helps web content attributed to your name appear higher in organic search engine results. This is a great way for scientists to broaden the reach of their research and published papers and posters. Just Google “Should I Use Google Plus” for lots more reading.


According to market research provider eMarketer, over half of business-to-business marketers say that video generates the second-best return on investment of any content marketing tool. For scientists, YouTube offers an opportunity to demonstrate the value of research to customers in an entertaining and engaging way.


These networking sites are designed to facilitate research cooperation. Users can follow colleagues and stay informed on the latest publications and research. Participation in discussions on the platform’s social forums provides ample opportunities to demonstrate thought leadership. (For more on what scientists are looking for in networking sites such as these, here’s a longer read on the subject.)

You Know the Platforms, Now What?

Now it’s time to leverage your knowledge of social media to build brand awareness.

Scientists turn to social media not just to interact with others, but also to read news, track markets, and keep up with the latest developments in their field. Position your brand as a valued contributor of information to bolster your visibility.

The key is to grab attention by sharing useful information and insights. By participating in social media, scientists have already chosen to engage and share with others. You have an audience waiting — all you have to do is get their attention.

In addition to directly interacting with audiences, you can also increase your visibility with advertising. Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to target and track your engagement with specific groups, industries, or demographics. Twitter also offers promoted tweets that can reach both current and potential followers. You can drive awareness of your business or promote content by targeting keywords, interests, or geography, and track your progress all the way through to engagement.

Finally, ensure that your marketing goals are guiding your social media efforts. What are you trying to accomplish? Want to gain insights from your customers? Demonstrate thought leadership? Keep your sales funnel full? The easiest way to work towards your marketing goals on social media is to offer your audience something of value. (We’ll be detailing more on the subject in upcoming posts – for instance, read on about getting your salespeople involved in your social media strategy in You and Your Business on Social Media.)

With all that social media has to offer, there are plenty of reasons why you should incorporate it in to your integrated marketing plan. Take advantage of the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your customers.


We want to hear
from you:

What social media tools or platforms have you found to be effective when marketing to scientists?

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